We’re coming to the end of our 15 days in Denia. Life at Los Pinos Camping is slow in the best possible way. We have been infused with a sense of relaxation and peace here that has done us the world of good. Sauntering towards the dishwash area or strolling on the seafront brings on a similar sense of wellbeing. People greet one another kindly as they pass by and groups of friends sit around tables, sharing a drink and some laughter … there is a noticeable lack of tense discussion of politics or anything else for that matter. The energy here is chilled and it seems to affect the entire population of the campsite. Our daily walks with the dogs on the path beside the sea keep us interested with the amazing variety of light and colour depending on the time of day and the intensity of sunlight. It would be difficult to get bored here.
It all sounds idyllic and indeed it is … can you sense the ‘but’ coming? We have discovered a rather scary side to life in Denia.
Road Rage on a Bike
It seems that riding your bike during siesta time is akin to putting your life at risk. Being relatively ignorant of the ways of the Spanish we made a rookie assumption. We thought that siesta time meant that the entire population would go home to eat a long lunch and then take a long nap. Aha, we thought, the roads will be deserted. It seems our assumption was wrong. Rather than slipping quietly home for a few well earned hours of rest many of them are out and about driving like maniacs, rushing to Lidl or battling through the town to heaven knows where. It seems there is a radical change of attitude from being careful of bikes on the road to not caring if they send you into the bushes as they fly by with a ferocity that truly shocked us the first time we experienced it. We can only assume that people are dashing for home, stopping at the shops on the way or rushing to pick up their little ones from school and trying to fit everything into those few short hours before work starts again at around 4 p.m. It has the unfortunate feel of Friday afternoon in the UK except it happens every day.
We were cycling through town the other day when we experienced the very worst of bad driving so many times that eventually we both ended up shouting abuse at a driver. He swung out of a turning without looking and drove on to the wrong side of the road, causing another driver to take evasive action by driving right into our path. No horns blew, no-one looked shocked, they just drove on as though this was the most normal thing in the world. We could be forgiven for thinking that this is just a national driving style and that we need to stay off the roads permanently if it wasn’t for the fact that we had met with nothing but politeness when out on our bikes at other times of day. If anyone can explain this mid afternoon phenomenon we would love to hear it. In the meantime, after two experiences on two separate days that almost had us driven off the road, we have decided to avoid going out on our bikes in the afternoon.
Now I’m in the mood for a grump I need to complain about the behaviour of people on paths that are clearly signposted for both walking and cycling. The promenade in Denia is just such a place and it’s one where both cyclists and pedestrians are sometimes guilty of forgetting the rights of the other users.
One morning, cycling home before the witching hour of 1.30 when the madness of siesta time overcomes drivers’ ability to follow the rules of the road, we were pedalling along the promenade when a wall of pedestrians appeared in our path, filling up the entire width of the considerable sized promenade. I slowed down, expecting one or two of them to notice that I had nowhere to go but it seems I was invisible. Eventually, slowing to almost dead stop, one person shifted to the side and looked at me with surprise as in “Oh, where did you pop up from?” Similarly, along this lovely route beside the Med, there are two possibilities for negotiating the changes in height level of the prom. There are big wide low steps for pedestrians and, beside the steps, a small narrow slope for bikes and wheelchairs. You can probably guess what my next complaint is … pedestrians ignoring the steps and slowly walking up the tiny slopes, stopping to take in the view or light a fag whilst remaining oblivious to the cyclists or wheelchair users who are rendered unable to proceed.
My penance for my irritable mood and the stream of swear words that I managed not to say but thought anyway is to adopt the following mantra – “I must remember to be more considerate of cyclists in the future”. It really is all too easy to get so involved in what you are doing in the moment to not even notice other road users.
So good we ate it twice
Please don’t let my grumbles give the wrong impression about our feelings about Denia. It truly is a great place to visit and we will definitely return. It wasn’t until the final few days of our time here that we discovered the delights of the Marina.
From a distance we had seen the enormous gin palaces and cruise ships but it was only when we cycled into the marina itself that we realised what we had been missing. There is a raised walkway beside the elegant shops and restaurants that looks out over the sea on one side and provides a safe stroll to view the boats moored one way and the ones out at sea on the other. Two lovely café bars are on the walkway and they both provide delicious breakfasts, coffee and cakes and later, cocktails and other delights that we haven’t had chance to sample. Yesterday morning, in that inevitable time when you start to think, “Quick! It’s nearly our last day and we haven’t tried …” (fill in whatever takes your fancy), we cycled to the marina, strolled along the walkway and had breakfast in the Buddha bar.
Everyone else was favouring the other bar, as it’s the first you come to, so we decided to go the quiet one. We sat alone at a table overlooking the water and were served coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and toast with crushed fresh tomatoes and cheese. It was delicious. The other option had been coffee and croissants and it had been hard to make up our minds so, being in that almost last day feeling, we eventually moved our chilled out bones out of there, collected the bikes and rode into town where we went to another coffee place and had coffee with pain au chocolat. I would say that we regret such outrageous over indulgence but we don’t so I won’t. It was delicious.
Shirley goes climbing
When we’re not on a campsite with electricity we’re dependent on solar power for our lights, water pump and recharging our various gadgets. We have good solar panels on the roof and a very efficient MPPT solar charge controller. OK, just to be clear – please don’t ask me what that actually means – I’m just repeating random words that Ian the solar man told me when he fitted it. But rest assured it’s efficient, although peak efficiency is dependent on the panels being clean and the sun shining. After a few weeks of parking near trees and the inevitable grime of driving and dusty conditions the panels get dirty.
Getting up onto the roof is often beyond us as we don’t carry ladders with us, for obvious reasons. Here on site we were able to borrow a ladder from the gardener / handyman and Shirley volunteered to climb up and clean them, having a go at the roof lights at the same time. The gardener spoke no English but he managed to convey his instructions for me to hold the bottom of the ladder and brace the legs with my feet. This proved difficult as the ladder leaned to one side, caused on closer inspection by the fact that one of its rubber feet was missing. Somehow we managed to get it secure enough for Shirley to climb up there like a mountain goat (have you ever seen a goat on a ladder?) and she got to work on the panels.
We are not usually impressed by internet advertising but we did buy some Koh cleaning fluid before we left. You might have seen the adverts all over the net. This stuff is wonderful! We haven’t yet found anything it can’t clean and it has no dangerous chemicals or anything that is bad for the environment. (I don’t work for them honestly.) Shirley managed to get the panels shining in double quick time and also made the large roof light over the lounge sparkle like new. It says something about the chilled nature of this place that people walked by and waved as though a lady of mature years can often be seen strolling round on a motorhome roof ten feet off the ground.
Our neighbours are Belgian – although this fact has nothing whatsoever to do with what I’m going to tell you next. This morning they moved their enormous A class motorhome laboriously off their pitch, shuffled it round the hedges, moved into the next pitch along and settled down… for about three minutes. They then got in again and moved it so that it was on an angle, presumably to get the best of the sunshine. Another three minutes passed by and we looked up again to see them laboriously trundling back to the original pitch. They then got all their furniture out again and settled down into exactly the same position they started from. We have no idea what was going on. Answers on a postcard please.
Last Sunday a large motorhome moved in to the pitch opposite ours. Names and details are withheld to protect the innocent but boy were these guys loud. They spoke to one another at the kind of volume normally reserved for football supporters or members of the cast of Eastenders. We could hear every word, not that any of it was the slightest bit interesting. They only stayed for two nights. That’s the power of prayer folks!
A highlight of this week has been the arrival of Karen and Myles of motoroaming.com. Their travel writing and articles about all things motorhoming are well worth a read. In fact it was their recommendation of Denia and this campsite that brought us here in the first place. We spent a happy time together talking about life on the road and the joys of setting yourself free to travel. After four years full time motorhome travelling, their enthusiasm is still sparkling and it was just grand to meet them after following their travels online. They are here for a long stay and gave us lots of details of fun things to do and see. We were tempted briefly to stay on longer but decided eventually that it really is time to move on. The good thing is that we have several good reasons to come back again another time.
Thanks Denia – it’s been great.